Vanderbilt Eyes Even More Success
By Dan Harralson
Year number three in Nashville usually translates to 'Can the Commodores produce a winning record?'
James Franklin has raised the bar to a level that Vanderbilt and the SEC have never seen. Franklin's third year as head coach is about whether he can lead the team to a bowl game for a third consecutive season.
What Franklin has accomplished at Vanderbilt so far is remarkable and he looks to continue it.
"We've been able to do some pretty good things that we're very, very proud of, that you guys are aware of," Franklin told reporters at SEC media days.
There is no doubt that Vanderbilt's schedule increasingly will get tougher as their traditional SEC West opponent Ole Miss gets better under Hugh Freeze. In addition in-state rival Tennessee, looks to regain national prominence under Butch Jones, brick-by-brick.
Franklin understands that and relishes the opportunity to square off against Ole Miss opening week.
"I think it's great for college football. I think it's great for the SEC. I know it's great for Vanderbilt, the fact we're going to be able to open the college football season, national television in our stadium and continue to build our brand and what we're doing," Franklin said.
Last year was the first nine-win season for Vanderbilt since 1915. Babe Ruth won his first World Series that year, almost a century ago.
The nine wins were remarkable, but Vanderbilt also ended the season on a seven-game winning streak (longer than any SEC team, including Alabama), beat in-state rival Tennessee and won the Music City Bowl over North Carolina State.
Franklin relishes those achievements, but he relishes the off-the-field stuff even more.
"Very proud of the fact that we're part of the what we call the 20-20-20 Club," Franklin said of his program. "That is us and Notre Dame are the only two schools in the country that finished in the Top 20 on the football field, that had a Top-20 recruiting class, and are in the Top 20 academic institutions. We're very, very proud of that."
Franklin is succeeding in Nashville, but how long will he continue to roam the sidelines at Vanderbilt?
Franklin was asked about getting a 'better' job.
"Great question," Franklin said. "You know, I do think it's been known to people, obvious to people, that we have had some other opportunities. My coaching staff as well. We believe in what we're doing (here)."
Vanderbilt looks to add another bowl game and winning season to Franklin's resume. Although Franklin really isn't worried about what happened before, he wants to win now.
"I think it's significant (winning at Vanderbilt), but once again those things are in the past. I think if we spend all our time focused on what we've done in the past two years, then we're not going to be able to achieve what we're able to achieve this year," Franklin concluded at SEC media days.